Kusile corruption case struck off the roll; Koko calls trial a ‘hate crime’
The inquiry was to determine if there were any undue delays in the Kusile corruption case against ex-Eskom CEO Matshela Koko and his co-accused.
Former Eskom chief executive Matshela Koko. Picture: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Esa Alexander
The Middelburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court, in Mpumalanga, struck the multibillion-rand Kusile corruption case against former acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko and his co-accused off the roll on Tuesday.
The judgment, however, is not a pronouncement of the innocence or guilt of the accused. The matter can be re-enrolled at a later stage if National Director of Public Prosecution, Adv Shamila Bathohi, wishes to do so.
Kusile corruption case: Inquiry into unreasonable delay
Magistrate Stanley Jacobs ordered the inquiry after an unreasonable delay application to have the case struck of the roll was brought by Koko and his co-accused’s defence.
It was argued that the State was not ready for trial, rendering Koko and the others’ October 2022 arrest on fraud, corruption and money laundering charges related to the construction of the Kusile Power Station, premature.
This after multiple postponement requests from the National Prosecuting Agency (NPA), with the latest being for a four-month extension to complete the investigation.
Koko labels Kusile matter a ‘hate crime’
After the judgment, Koko released a statement in which he referenced Psalm 91 while saying “the past six years has been tragic”.
He labelled the Kusile matter a “hate crime” against him and his family, raking the NPA over the coals for “having done somebody a favour” with the case.
He also lashed into the African National Congress (ANC), calling the ruling party “a threat to the rule of law and the Constitution”.
“We must make 2024 better than 1994 by making NPA a Section 9 institution. The hyenas cannot look after the sheep,” Koko’s statement read.
Everything to know about the Kusile corruption case so far
The high-profile case has been making headlines since 2020 and relates to billions of rands worth of contracts for the construction of the Kusile Power Station, outside Emalahleni.
The contracts were awarded in 2015 to companies allegedly linked to Koko’s friends and family.
An investigation by the Specialised Investigating Unit (SIU) in 2020 found that the companies received overpayments amounting to R2 billion.
At the centre of the case, is an alleged dodgy contract awarded by Eskom to Swiss-based engineering company Asia Brown Boveri (ABB).
The former Eskom boss’s wife, Mosima, and two stepdaughters, Koketso Aren and Thato Choma, also feature under the 17 co-accused, as well as former South African Local Government Association (Salga) CEO Thabo Mokwena, Eskom project director at Kusile Power Station Frans Sithole, lawyer Johannes Coetzee, and businessman Watson Seswai.
Their charges range from fraud, corruption, money laundering, tax evasion, and unauthorised gratifications related to Kusile’s construction.
Investigator backtracks on extradition testimony
News24 reported that on 1 November, the lead investigator in the corruption case has backtracked on his testimony that two German nationals accused in the matter – Sunil Vip and Markus Bruegmann – will not be extradited to stand trial.
Under cross-examination by Advocate Shaun Abrahams, counsel for Mokwena and his two companies, the investigative officer blamed a court interpreter for his U-turn.
Jacobs rejected this claim, telling the officer that the court has no difficulty in understanding Afrikaans. The magistrate then concluded that the investigator’s testimony suggested the two Germans would not be brought to the country to stand trial.
The investigator, who cannot be named by court order, then admitted that there was no extradition process underway. However, he said that didn’t mean the two would not be prosecuted.
However, he said Interpol Red Notices had been issued, and should the two travel to other countries, they would be arrested and brought to South Africa to stand trial.
The third international accused, who is still in the United Kingdom, is Gopal Kambi.